What is taken and what is given

In the early days of this blog, my Dad was a regular presence. He showed up in photos and posts as we shared the various projects we were working on.

Matt, Dad and me tiling the basement bathroom

Over the years, his presence here has slowly dwindled as Parkinson’s Disease took more and more of his body and his mind.

A few weeks ago, Parkinson’s Disease took his life.

Way too soon.

We are mourning that he was taken from us. But we are also mourning everything that was taken from him. More time at the farm or the house he built with my Mom, helping my brother and sisters with their houses. Time with Ellie and his other grandchildren. Time with his garden, his lathe, his boat–all of the things and places and people that he loves.

Dad meeting Ellie for the first time

We grieve what has been taken. But we celebrate everything that he has given us.

A few years ago, I wrote about how I became a DIYer. I said, “When it comes to the renovation and home improvement side of my DIY personality, my biggest influence is my Dad.”

Working with my Dad and Grandpa

I see my Dad in so much of the farm.

When we first moved in, Dad was here every weekend, helping us put the basement back together. A contractor, he ran his own business and worked construction all week, and then he gave us his weekends, doing more.

Removing a window well

He supervised trades, leaving us notes to let us know how things went. He advised us, he supported us and he taught us.

Note from Dad

This note, left on the day we had our new well drilled, gives details on the well and pump and ends with “Drinks is on me. Love Dad.” He had filled the glasses outside with water from the new well.

He is the most selfless person I know and does everything for his family.

The major reason we felt ready to take on the farm and actually looked for a fixer-upper was that we knew Dad was there for us. He’d been with us through our first house and I’d worked many summers with him in his business.

Drilling post holes with an auger

He helped us to achieve this dream of having a farm and making it what we want. I feel him here, even as I miss working with him. Being at the farm gives me an amazing feeling of peace. I would not be here without him.

All my life, my Dad included me, taught me, gave me confidence and spent time with me.

My Dad took every chance to tell me how much he loves me, how proud he is of me, how happy he is to see who I have become. Especially as he neared the end of his life, he made sure we had no doubt how he feels about us.

I love the life that Matt and I have built together. I hope that we can give Ellie the love, guidance, work ethic, responsibility, kindness, strength and confidence that my Dad and Mom give me.


Dad, I am so grateful for the life you have given me. Thank you. I love you so much.

We’ve been encouraging people to honour our Dad with a few suggestions that are in keeping with how he lived his life:

  • Get together with a friend or family member whom you haven’t seen in awhile

  • Donate blood at your next local blood donor clinic

  • Donate to Parkinson Canada or the Alzheimer Society of Canada

  • Help a child have a fun experience outdoors (take them yourself or donate to a children’s charity camp)

If you choose to do any of these things, it would mean a lot if you’d share it with me in the comments.


16 thoughts on “What is taken and what is given

  1. Thanks you for sharing your lovely Dad memories. I’m sure he had equally lovely memories of his times with you. Karen Bickel

  2. Aww Julia, I’m so sorry to hear this. So painful. He left you with a lifetime of warm memories and a feeling of being buttressed by love and admiration that will last you all your days. I know, because my dad did the same for me. I’m glad he got to meet Ellie – what a precious picture that is. I imagine you are feeling the loss for her as well. The picture of you jumping off the dock could not be more expressive of what he gave you! This is a beautiful tribute post and I will definitely do one or more of the suggestions, in memory of your dad. Lots of love to you and your family, at this difficult time especially.

    • Thank you for your kindness, Jan. I feel strongly that my Dad is still with me, in memory and in spirit. And he absolutely lives on in me, Ellie, the farm and so much more. I’ve been thinking a lot about legacy, and his is a special one. I appreciate that you’re going to help to carry on his legacy as well.

      • I finally found an old, old friend (since age 5!) that I lost about 15 years ago. I’ve looked for her many times, but a couple of days ago I found someone I hoped might be her on LinkedIn. Tonight, there was a return email from my dear friend in my inbox!! Immediately I thought about your Dad. ❤

  3. Hi Julia, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family….your post brought me to tears …. I lost my dad 16 yrs ago (he, too, was a gifted DIYer and so knowledgeable of many things) —- I think about him and miss him every day. May you find comfort and peace in knowing that your dad is not suffering anymore and you have all your memories to cherish and talk, cry and laugh about …. as my daughter and I do … God Bless, Nola.
    (and yes, I will do a few of the suggestions you mention in memory of your dad)

    • Thank you very much, Nola. I feel a great responsibility–in the most wonderful way–to help my Dad live on for Ellie. We will be sharing lots of memories with her and teaching her lots of things that my Dad taught me, so that she knows him.

  4. Ohh Julia, I had no idea, I am so very sorry. I lost my father-in-law 2 years ago and as hard as that was it has made me appreciate my father even more and I try to treasure every day with him, because we really don’t know what the future brings.

    I love all of your beautiful memories that you have shared, I can tell that you had a wonderful relationship with your dad. And I think that photo of you jumping into his arms should be treasured! It is beautiful.

    I too promise to do something in his honor.

  5. Oh, Julia,

    Nothing I can say will make this hurt less right now. I know. My dad died very suddenly six years ago. It is a very disorienting time. Everything feels wrong and confusing for a long time.

    I loved this post, and that last picture brought tears to my eyes. Much love sent to you as your grieve.

  6. So very sorry for your loss.

    I don’t know if this counts but a week ago on Friday, I dragged my weary self down to the local playing field with my middle daughter, to support my youngest daughter and her friends by taking part in the annual staff/parents versus pupils/siblings rounders match.

    Every year for the last four years, the children (11 + 12 year olds) who are moving on from Primary School up to Secondary School, challenge their parents, class teacher and TA to a rounders match before they have a party and sleep over in the school hall. It was a lot of fun (although I was definitely feeling my age and my sciatic nerve :O ) and we parents won and we most definitely did NOT cheat ……..we simply employed a creative interpretation of the rules 😀

    Children grow up so fast which is why it is so important to spend as much quality time with them as you can and help them create good memories, to help them cope with the stresses of adulthood. Your dad was a DIYer and he has helped you create so many good memories and skills.

    As adults, my girls will remember helping their dad rebuild Land Rover engines. They will remember being taught how to build their own radio controlled cars and then racing them. They will remember having their own patch of garden to grow things in and helping me in the main garden and now they will remember playing rounders with me, the other parents and Little Mudlets’ classmates and that for some reason the bases kept ‘blowing’ away (we weren’t running off with them I promise 😀 ) when they were trying to get a rounder 🙂

  7. Love the last picture — the total abandon and trust of a little girl, flinging herself into the water and into the waiting, strong, and capable arms of her hunky and loving father, knowing that he will catch her. Beautiful. The devotion and joy of both you and your dad is palpable. I am sorry he is gone; there is a hole there that can never be fiiled up, but memories like this can help.

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